Why DTM was slower than GT World Challenge at Monza

The DTM was unable to meet its target of becoming the fastest GT3 series in the world at Monza, with outright lap times fractionally slower than GT World Challenge Europe.

Following its top-to-bottom overhaul during the winter, the revamped DTM series held its opening round at the Italian venue last weekend, with series partner AVL Racing employing clever BoP tricks to help it stand out from other GT3 championships around the world.

But the fastest overall time of the weekend, a 1m46.488s set by Mercedes driver Vincent Abril in Saturday’s qualifying, was 0.046s off the pace of the AMG GT3 of Jules Gounon in the GTWCE qualifying at the same venue in April.

During the races, the DTM was miles ahead, with Red Bull protege Liam Lawson lapping over six tenths faster in the AF Corse Ferrari than any driver did in the SRO championship’s own season opener at the 5.8km circuit.

The top speed of the categories was largely the same, with BMW ace Timo Glock hitting 282.72km/h in Sunday’s qualifying.

So, why were GT3 cars in the DTM slower than those in GTWCE over a single lap?

First, let’s take a look at why DTM should have been the faster of the two championships. The German category has partnered with Michelin following the end of its partnership with Hankook, which should offer a theoretical advantage over the Pirellis used in the SRO-promoted series.

The BoP in the DTM, too, is set as such to allow engines to operate closer to their peak performances. The engine restrictors on the Mercedes, Audi and Lamborghini were all two millimeters larger than their equivalent versions in GTWCE, which should allow more air to enter - hence translating into more performance. A higher boost pressure was also stipulated for turbocharged cars such as those used by Ferrari and BMW.

Hence, it turns out that the weather conditions played a spoilsport, preventing the DTM from taking the honour of the fastest GT3 series in the world that it has been striving for.

Gounon set his laptime when the air temperature was just 11 degrees, 15 degrees lower than the conditions that prevailed in the first DTM qualifying on Saturday.

The heat has a negative impact on naturally-aspirated engines, with the difference in temperature between GTWCE and DTM rounds amounting to an estimated 1.5s in performance.

This means that the DTM drivers could have theoretically breached the 1m45s barrier in similar conditions as those seen in GTWCE, putting the series very much on par with its target.

Turbo-charged cars aren’t averse to temperatures either, and the boost pressure of 2.135 bar reaching the upper limit of the BMW M6.

Could GT Open beat both categories?

The International GT Open will hold its Monza round in September and could also benefit from lower air temperatures, potentially positioning itself as the faster GT3 series, at least at the Italian venue.

Already last year, the pole time set by Henrique Chaves in a McLaren 720S was a 1m45.470s, which is faster than what any DTM or GTWCE driver managed this year. Various factors came into play, including electric tyre blankets and lower performance weights.

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